Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Paranormal Novella DARK MAGIC by @TomCW99

Today’s team review is from Barb, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading Dark Magic by Tom Williams

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My Review: 4 stars out of 5

As long as there have been stories, we’ve had tales of people making bargains with gods and deals with demons. Occasionally it works out for them, but far more often it works the way we expect. The devil has been at this for a looong time and there’s a reason why he’s one hell of a contract lawyer.

What’s so interesting about the deal with a devil trope as it plays out in Dark Magic is that in one sense, you don’t even need it to be actual magic. We’ve all looked at people who are so much more successful than we are, and in our hearts we know a dark truth: we could be better than them. They just have a couple of advantages—more attractive/ richer/ younger/ luckier.

In this novella, the stage magicians of the Maestros of Magic show have  mastered their craft, done all the heavy lifting, paid all the dues. But somehow, they are still playing grotty provincial venues, barely making ends meet. So they’re mystified about how their competitors, the Carnival of Conjurers, are successfully pulling in the crowds at their West End gigs, while still just performing time-honored illusions.

It’s not as though the Conjurers are doing anything all that original. Their material is familiar to all stage magicians. They just do it… better. Their technique is so foolproof, so audacious that it almost seems like well… magic. Debbie, a young woman who mysteriously joins them as a potential Magician’s Beautiful Assistant, is the first to say it out loud.

I had a friend who used to work with them. She quit because she was scared. She said they were messing around with real magic — black magic.

The other Maestros scoff at this and wonder if they should rethink offering her a position. But despite their overt skepticism, they wonder… And when a pattern emerges that points to accidents and deaths among audience members, their skepticism turns to concern and then fear. Again Debbie steps in to encourage more investigation, and to provide a dangerous path for further discoveries.

Like the time-honored magic tricks both groups use, Dark Magic doesn’t offer a new take on the deal with the devil trope. It remains a classic example of the genre, right down to the predictable twist at the end. But what makes this such a fun read is the author’s ownership of the world of stage magic, and complete familiarity with stage magic as a physical skill. Because they know how the tricks and illusions are done, the magicians are the people least likely to believe in real magic. Their competitors’ use of actual magic is almost an embarrassment for the Maestros, a form of cheating.

If you like a well-told classic short story with dark humor and even darker magic, if you enjoy an inside look at a skill set whose whole purpose is to fool the eye, and if you see the looming iceberg but you still enjoy the view from the deck chairs on the Titanic, then I recommend Dark Magic.

Book description

Baby’s blood… Virgin’s tears… Chainsaws… It’s remarkable what some magicians keep back-stage.

Two magic shows: the Maestros of Magic touring the country, playing provincial theatres; the Carnival of Conjurors successful in the West End. When the Maestros learn that the Conjurors are using real magic – Black Magic – to do their tricks they decide that they must use their own, distinctly unmagical, stage skills to stop them. Soon people are dying on stage – but can the Maestros really beat a team that has the devil on their side?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of Epic #Fantasy THE LOST WAR by Justin Lee Anderson @authorjla #TuesdayBookBlog

52284552. sx318 sy475 The Lost War: Eidyn Book One by Justin Lee Anderson

4.5 stars

The Lost War is an epic fantasy tale, and book one of the Eidyn series.

It opens in the country of Eidyn as it recovers from a great war. The evil Mynygogg is currently trapped in Dunn Eidyn castle, while King Janaeus attempts to repair the damage to his kingdom.

Aranok is the king’s envoy and, together with his bodyguard Allandria, he is given a mission to help a deposed queen regain her throne so that she may become a useful ally to the new king, thus helping him create a solid ruling platform.

Following the popular quest trope of this genre, the pair set off with a small band of companions into a land to face magic, demons, Reivers, and the Blackened—violent victims of a wasting plague.

Although this isn’t a genre that I regularly read, I was drawn to this after reading the opening chapter. The author’s style grabbed my attention with a winning opening hook and it had me wanting to know more. I thought the dialogue, often quite coarse, suited the overall tone of the story, and I could easily picture the settings and the characters, which is always a tick in my book.

Aranok is a draoidh, like a wizard, but his skills make some people mistrust him. However, as the king’s envoy, he must be respected, so the two labels cause conflicting responses from folks during their travels.

The author chose to make several of the main female characters warriors. Alliandra, Aranok’s bodyguard, is a brilliant archer. Nirea is a pirate captain and excellent sword fighter, as is Samily, a knight of the notorious White Thorn order. I thought they worked really well.

There was plenty of conflict which kept the story interesting and moving at a good pace and I enjoyed the other story threads which evolved as the band travelled through Eidyn. Looking back there were several scenes which I particularly enjoyed and if I had to choose just one it would be during the ghost town visit at Caer Amon.

Overall a good tale in this genre and if you like any of these fantasy elements: magic, demons, ghosts, zombie types, interesting characters and well -written twisted storylines, then this might be for you.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

The war is over, but something is rotten in the state of Eidyn.

With a ragged peace in place, demons burn farmlands, violent Reivers roam the wilds and plague has spread beyond the Black Meadows. The country is on its knees.

In a society that fears and shuns him, Aranok is the first magically-skilled draoidh to be named King’s Envoy.

Now, charged with restoring an exiled foreign queen to her throne, he leads a group of strangers across the ravaged country. But at every step, a new mystery complicates their mission.

As bodies drop around them, new threats emerge and lies are revealed, can Aranok bring his companions together and uncover the conspiracy that threatens the kingdom?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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